Jokes, laughs, songs and the smell of latkes filled Ballroom B of the Student Activities Center as more than 100 students participated in fun competition at Stony Brook Hillel’s Latke 1000 on Dec. 6.
At the annual tradition, members of Stony Brook Hillel and other students came together to celebrate the upcoming Jewish holiday. Four teams competed against one another in small challenges to make menorahs and dreidels, create and perform their own Hanukkah songs and win raffle prizes. In between each event, everyone enjoyed traditional Jewish pancakes known as latkes.
“This is my second year running Latke 1000 and I love it,” Shaina Abrams, the director of Jewish Student Life, said. “The whole point of Latke 1000 is for 1,000 latkes to be eaten during the duration of the event. Latke 1000 used to be just an eating competition, but that idea got scratched years ago. So Hillel transformed the event into an Olympic style of competition while still incorporating latkes.”
The four teams that competed were each represented by a different color: blue, tie-dye, purple and black. The blue team comprised Israeli students, the purple team had students from Hillel’s Peer Network Engagement Internship, and the tie-dye and black teams included students from Greek life organizations such as Tau Kappa Epsilon, Alpha Sigma Alpha and Alpha Epsilon Pi.
Each of the four teams had its own board of students who went around campus in hopes of recruiting students to join Hillel and learn more about the faith two weeks prior to the event.
“The main thing for the board is for us to get other students excited for Latke 1000,” Lauren Sprung, a senior mechanical engineering major and head of the Israeli board of students, said. “We had 85 students sign up on Facebook and had even more people show up.”
She added that the event has grown in the four years that she has been involved in the event.
“I remember when I first came here, we would have 50 to 60 people show up,” Sprung said. “To see over 100 people show up and have fun this year is really amazing. That’s been the difference; each year this event becomes more fun. There’s more games, more friendly competition. The only thing that doesn’t change are the 1000 latkes we need to eat.”
At the end of the night, the tie-dye team came in first place, having the most points awarded to them by the rabbi judges. The team members also won bragging rights with their friends. One member, Cassandra Clark, helped her team in a big way and overcame her nerves throughout the event.
“I was just really nervous,” Clark, a sophomore psychology and studio arts double major, said. “I was the one who wrote the song for the singing competition. Like all the words and the beat, I came up with. It was really cool that I was able to help our team win.”